Essar group to sell mobile tower business to ATC for Rs1973 crore

The Essar group, which has interests in mobile-phone services, energy, steel and real estate businesses, may sell its mobile-phone tower business, Essar Telecom Infrastructure, to American Tower Corp (ATC) by as early as 15 February, media reports said today.

The deal is expected to raise $425 million (Rs1973 crore), which may fill up Essar's coffers to bid for third-generation wireless licences.

Essar Telecom Infrastructure is India's second-biggest independent operator of mobile-phone towers with about 4,000 towers.

The group has been in talks with ATC, one of the top three independent tower companies in the US, for the past few months regarding the sale of its unit, but the deal didn't take place because of valuation differences (See: American Tower may buy Essar unit for $400 million).

The buyout will help ATC compete with other independent tower companies.

In March 2009, ATC reportedly paid Rs700 crore (Rs41 lakh apiece) for 17,000 towers of Xcel Telecom, founded by former BPL Mobile chief executive Sandip Basu.